Oil & Gas Boom in Karnes County, Texas Leads to Increase in Drilling Rig Injuries and Truck Crash Fatalities


Recent events in Karnes County, Texas point to a growing concern with the effect of the oil and gas field industry on the safety of workers and residents in this south Texas county. While the oil field boom has benefited the Karnes County economy, it has brought a noticeable increase in the number of industrial accidents and traffic accidents in this part of Texas in the past few years. Local officials in Karnes County believe there is a link between the oil and gas industry and the rise of industrial and traffic accidents in the county.

karnes county

Drilling Rig Injuries

On September 26, 2013, the Victoria Advocate published an article regarding a recent oil and gas field accident that occurred in Falls City, Texas. The accident took place on FM Road 791 and CR 207 at a rig owned by Freeport-McMoRan Oil and Gas. According to reports, a water pipe burst on the rig, resulting in injuries to six people. The accident severely burned four of these individuals who were subsequently sent to a San Antonio area hospital.

attribute to Richard Bartz Courtesy of Richard Bartz

Truck Crash Fatalities

On September 25, 2013, KENS 5 released a news story on the increase in fatal car accidents in Karnes County. Local officials believe many of these traffic accidents to be a consequence of the oil boom seen by the region in recent years. Traffic in the area has increased substantially due to the high number of oil production vehicles on the roads. According to a local resident, big rigs “seem like they own the roads and what are [drivers] going to do to move out of the way.”

In years past, Karnes County has seen on average two traffic accident fatalities per year. That number increased to six traffic accident fatalities this year. In the past month, a collision in Karnes County between an 18-wheeler and a pickup truck resulted in the tragic death of four oil field workers who were traveling in the pickup truck.

attribute to G__Goebel Courtesy of G. Goebel

Karnes County and the oil boom

Falls City, the location of the industrial accident that took place on September 26, 2013, is located approximately forty miles southeast of San Antonio in Karnes County, Texas. The county has experienced a significant increase in oil and gas field activity in the past few years. According to data from the Railroad Commission of Texas, almost 39 million oil barrels were produced in 2012 in Karnes County alone.

RRCFrom RRC website

Governmental response to accidents

According to Karnes County Sheriff Dwayne Villanueva, both the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and the Texas Railroad Commission will proceed with an investigation into the oilfield accident that occurred in Falls City, Texas on September 26, 2013.

Sheriff Dwayne Villanueva has also received approval from the Commissioner’s Court to increase the size of his police force in an effort to provide better response to the growing number of traffic accidents in Karnes County.

See the article from the Victoria Advocate at:

See the news story from KENS 5 San Antonio at:

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